Thursday, January 05, 2012

Designer pets: multiple DNAs inside a single body.

New Scientist reports today on a successful experiment to create chimeric monkeys with fragments of six DNAs.
Jan 5, 2012. -- Shoukhrat Mitalipov of the Oregon National Primate Research Center in Beaverton created them by extracting individual cells from up to six very early embryos, each containing just four cells, then mixing these together in a single, new embryo.
After post-mortems on seven miscarried chimeras, Mitalipov discovered that the genotypes from each of the six original embryos were dispersed throughout their bodies, rather than segregated into discrete tissues.
Chimera mice are widely used in biology research and chimera humans occur naturally when, for example, two embryos merge into one in the womb. Genetically modified plants are a part of mainstream agriculture already. It's reasonable to expect that in a couple of generations creating a chimera organism could go mainstream too. Today, the results are random, but with proper genetic engineering we can get control over the process.

Maybe instead of growing whole organisms, which is technically difficult and ethically challenging, it will be possible to build individual organs that are compatible with multiple people. Transplanting such organs will be easier than the ones with a single DNA.

P.S. I vaguely remember a science fiction story where the main character was a human chimera. He had his twin's conciseness embedded in his mind. I think the novel was by Stephen King.

tags: biology, health, separation, innovation, science

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